Ah, the to-be read list. Both a blessing and a curse, certainly. While it is certainly nice to know which books you’d like to read, it can be equally daunting to see thousands (or more- mine comes in at 1,293 on Goodreads) books that, if we’re being honest, we likely will never read the majority of. But I was thinking… how exactly did my TBR become so hopeless and out of hand?
Ah, look, it is the biggest threat to a manageable TBR, the fellow blogger/reader! Seriously, I love you, but you’re the most enabling bunch my bookshelf has ever encountered. Alas, I am guilty as well. What is a bookperson to do when they fall in love with a book? Flail about, encouraging everyone you’ve ever met to add the book to their to-read lists, obviously!
And I get it, because isn’t that kind of our point? Only… I don’t immediately take a book off my list when someone I know doesn’t like it. So why do I add it immediately? We may never know. But if you praise a book, and tell me I’ll love it… chances are, it’ll be on my list by the next day.
Have you ever gone down a Goodreads hole? It’s fun! You find a book, and then look at all the books that might be like that book. Or you look at some lists of books that come out in 2021 and add all their vague synopses. Good times! Goodreads is pretty much the inventor of the To-Be-Read, and they seem damn proud of it. You log in and are suddenly bamboozled with all the books that Goodreads thinks you need to add to your list.
Goodreads, maybe a little less angry.
Every week, the lovely folks at Publishers Weekly put out a list of the new author deals that went down. And look, all you get is a teeny blurb, a picture of the author, and a release date sometime in the next decade. I don’t know what it is, but the smiling, glowing faces of people who just achieved their damn dreams makes me want to race to Goodreads and add that bad boy as quickly as I can. It’s like I am cheering them on, basically. Their happiness is contagious? Who knows.
Me: Aw, they look so very lovely! Let’s add their book ASAP, because why not?
Me, Two Years Later: Hey, does anyone remember why I added some book about kleptomaniac clowns in outer space to my TBR?
As I said above, I don’t have the same ease of kicking books off my TBR as I do putting them on. Why? Well, I think the reason is twofold:
- What if I miss out on something good? Sure, you might not have liked it, but maybe I will? And something caught my attention enough for me to put it on there in the first place, so… Unless I see a lot of straight up horrible reviews and/or the book is incredibly problematic, it’s probably going to stay.
- My memory sucks.If I don’t add a book of interest to my TBR, I will legitimately never remember it again, and it shall be lost to the bookish abyss for ever. Or until someone brings it up again. But if the book isn’t particularly popular, I need to add it. Presumably, I’d be able to find The Raven King again if I removed it from my TBR. But with most books, it’d be out of sight, out of mind. So I keep them.
- Everyone else is doing it! This applies, of course, mainly to moderately hyped books. Even if I don’t think it is going to be my cup of tea, if everyone I know wants to read it, it’s probably making an appearence on my TBR.
Can you walk into a bookstore, browse online, or be in the company of books in general without acquiring new ones? If so, congrats! If not… well, you might as well join me at my intervention. I have long since lost count of how many books I have, but if you add up physical and ebooks, I promise it’s over a thousand. That… is a problem.
So, you have a favorite author who wrote some books you loved. Yay! Of course, that person probably wants to continue to eat food, and maybe keep a roof over their head, so they write more books. And you, of course, want to read them. Because hello, Author X wrote it! This is why we add books that our faves have not even confirmed they’re writing yet. I think I have had at least twenty “unknown second novel” by favorites on my TBR at any given time.
This goes a bit hand in hand with the last point. When you love a series, you’ll keep reading it. There’s going to be six books, but you’ve only read one? No problem, add ’em all! Ten novellas, three prequels, and a graphic novel? Yep, better get them on the list too. Hell, if you’re like me, you have books that are never actually going to come out ever on your list (The Host 2 and 3, anyone?) but you just can’t seem to let go of the hope.